Category: Seventies

Brad Bennett-70

Hello Brian. Enjoy your site very much. 2 years ago I collapsed in my bedroom with intense chest pain around 11 pm. My wife called an ambulance and they rushed me the local hospital here in Abbotsford BC. Once there they ran the usual tests for heart failure but could find no cause? I remained in pain and needed a lot of meds. After another Ct scan with still no answer they decided to hold me over night.

But one Dr on night shift, Dr Newton, sensed something wrong and called the Cardio center at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. There a Dr Daniel Wong asked for the scan and was certainly concerned, but even he was reluctant to have me sent over to his facility as it was 3 am and a team would be hard to get together. But Dr Newton was adamant, and insisted I should be sent immediately. He ordered an ambulance and I was sent to Royal so fast my wife could’nt keep up. Once there Dr Wong ran more tests and sure enough I was developing a full ascending aortic breakdown and had only hours to live!

Somehow Dr Wong got a team and I went into Emergency open heart surgery. Later the attending Dr told me my aorta was splitting right down the middle and they were able to remove it with just in time. They spliced in a plastic tube to replace it that ran from the top of my heart and down to the defending section. Quite a feat of surgery for Dr Wong.

I’m 74 now and leading a healthy life thanks to some very fine doctors. I was truly blessed that night.

Cheers. Brad Bennett

Hridesh Chandra Pandey-70

Name: Hridesh Chandra Pandey
Age at time of Dissection: 70
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 17 September 2016
Tell Us Your Story:

My father was taken for Aortic valve replacement at the time of operation the doctor found that ascending Aorta intraoperatively noticed to be Aneurysmally dilated 7 cm up toproximal port of arch of aorta.chest closed. Sir the doctor has refused to operate …pls help us out..we have hardly a year and a month.

Millie Martin-72

Name: Millie Martin
Age at time of Dissection: 72
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 6 June 2015
Tell Us Your Story:

I am a very busy, active 72 yr old female. I live in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada…..Also known as Muskoka! On June 2nd & 5th, I had played 18 holes of golf on both those days & felt fine. After getting up on June 6th, while having breakfast, I had a funny feeling in my neck…..shortly after that my left leg went totally numb & I couldn’t stand. Yelled at my husband to call the ambulance…..they took me to Huntsville abt 30 mins away as they have a stroke unit there & our hospital in Bracebridge doesn’t. I was never in any pain at all which is weird.

I arrived in Huntsville just after 8 am & after many CT scans & CT angios a Dr Rea came & told me at 5 o’clock I had a dissected aorta & I would be flown by air ambulance to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto…it was a serious operation, & if I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t live!….so basically he saved my life by the diagnosis! I sent my kids & youngest sister a text, told them what was happening & if I didn’t make it…. I loved them all!! I remembered seeing my daughter when they took me into Sunnybrook, but my husband had not arrived there yet, and my son & his family were camping at Darien Lake, so he didn’t get there until the next day.

After a 9 1/2 hr surgery, I don’t remember much of anything! I was in ICU for 9 days, & not much support after I was sent home. My surgeon was awesome…..good looking too I might add!! In Dec 2011, I was diagnosed with temporal arteritis, & put on prednisone to keep me from going blind……THAT is one of the causes of a dissected aorta……who knew?? It has been almost 4 mos & I am still trying to get some strength & stamina back so I can get on with my life. I have enjoyed reading the stories on this site & I thank Brian, as there is very little information about this & no one to talk to about it.
Thanks for listening to my story………


Rosie Raymer-78

Name: Rosie Raymer
Age at time of Dissection: 78
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 18 March 2014
Tell Us Your Story:

One day in March 2014, my 78 year old mom was experiencing excruciating chest pain. She barely managed to call my sister and an ambulance was called. She was taken to the hospital. A CT scan was done and the Type A Ascending AD was missed. She was discharged once they confirmed there was no heart attack. Two weeks later, she had excruciating back pain in the middle of the night. She managed to call the ambulance herself and went to the same hospital. Again a CT scan was taken, the AD missed and she was discharged on the basis of no heart attack. My brother in law went to pick her up and alerted the staff that her left side was not moving. She was having a massive stroke. She was quickly rushed to a neuro hospital and given blood thinner.

My brother in law told the doctor there that she had experienced bad chest and back pain. The earlier CT scans were reviewed and the AD was finally noted. Blood thinners were quickly ceased and she was rushed to cardiac hospital. Given that she was given blood thinners, surgery was not an option. She flat lined twice that night then stabilized. She is completely paralyzed on the left side though her speech and mind are good. It has now been 6 weeks since the stroke occurred, She is waiting for a bed in a neuro rehab hospital.

The cardiac surgeon reran a CY scan and her aorta has increased to 4.6cm from 4.4cm on date of admission. Another CT scan will be run in 3 to 4 months. They do not want to do surgery now because her recovery will be difficult as she is very limited in mobility. The plan is to see how strong she can get from rehab, see how the aorta is doing and revisit the surgery option. We are devastated that the initial hospital missed this twice but realize we have to focus on recovery and the situation at hand for now. Has anyone experienced similar situation of Type A Ascending AD combined with a massive right hemi stroke?

I am interested in the recovery,if surgery was eventually performed and how rehab was modified to take into account the AD. I am worried that the AD will be exacerbated with the physical effort she will need to exert to stand on her own, walk etc. She is very feisty and a fighter so she will push herself. Thank you so much for this website. It has been very helpful.

Sandra Dempsey-70

Name: Sandra Dempsey
Age at time of Dissection: 70
Type of Dissection: Ascending
Date of Aortic Dissection: 6 July 2011
Tell Us Your Story:

My Name is Mike Dempsey. I am a firefighter/EMT with Gilmer Co. Fire Rescue in Gilmer Co. Georgia. This is the story of my mother Sandra. My mother is a beautiful 70 y/o woman. With what we all thought was a lot of life left in her. At 6 A.M. on Wednesday July 6th I got the call that everyone in public safety never expects or wants to get. It was Captain Adam James of the GCFD telling me that a medic unit was being dispatched to my mothers house for difficulty breathing. I told him I was on my way, But in no way was I prepared for what was about to happen.

I knew my mother has had some minor breathing problems before, but nothing major. The Medic unit arrived and paramedic Jason Anderson phoned me and told me mother was to weak to come to the door. I arrived shortly after with a key. We made our way to mothers bed to find her in a state I’ve never seen her in, She looked as though she could pass at anytime. All of her vital signs looked good except her blood pressure 90/60.

Mother has high blood pressure so we knew something wrong. With fluids going we head to the local ER. Where more fluid were given but, B/P continued to drop 70/30. A helicopter was dispatched to fly mother to Erlanger Hospital in Chattanooga about a 20 min. flight. Once at Erlanger mother was rushed into surgery. 30 mins. into a 10 hr. surgery mother ruptured Doctors were able to fix the rupture and continue with the surgery.

Doctors replaced 33 mm of mothers ascending aorta and performed a bypass of her rt. coronary artery. It’s Sunday July 10th and mother is sitting up and leaving the ICU today. This story of Sandra Dempsey is Dedicated to the Doctors, Nurses, Flight Crew, and my brothers from the Gilmer Co. Fire Dept. Who through their hard work and prayers has given mother her life back. This web site has already helped. I would like to find some info. on what we can expect after she gets home. As well as some diet and fitness programs that will keep her around for a long
time to come.

Thank you The Family of Sandra Dempsey.

Thanks for stopping by to view our stories. Please help me keep the site going by shopping at’s very much appreciated. Brian Tinsley founder of (please book mark the link once you get to for future purchases!)

Loretta Young-70

Personal Stories: Loretta Young Dear Brian,   I’m sure that you can relate to the relief I felt, when I was referred to your website! My only problem is, I was so overwhelmed and frightened, I kept putting off contacting you! Your website is awesome, and today I’ve pushed myself to really get involved in this, but don’t even know how to begin; again, I feel so overwhelmed by everything about this condition.   My name is Loretta Young, and I just turned 70, last April. On September 29, 2007, I just felt incredibly sleepy, so snoozed on my bed with my cats all day. It was a Saturday, and some close friends of mine had called me in the afternoon, to tell me that they were in town, and invited me to go out to dinner with them. I agreed, then got out of bed, after another 1 1/2 hour nap, took a shower and got dressed to go out. When they arrived, I was in the process of putting on my mascara. Suddenly, I got this piercing pain in the back of my head, and it was like someone was pulling a zipper down, in my head, and the pain went into my right shoulder. I commented to my friend who had come up to let me know that they were there, “Hmmm, I am having the most unusual pain in my head, and I just don’t feel right!” My friend is a nurse (we were roommates in nursing school), and she advised me to just rest for a few seconds and see if it got worse. It got decidedly worse! She dialed 911, and I was whisked to the E.R. of the nearest hospital. I felt so weird, and the E.M.T.s were obviously concerned about my condition. To make matters worse, since 1992, I’ve had serious breathing problems, due to a paralyzed diaphragm (who knows how that happened!), and was forced to retire in 2001, because even with my portable Oxygen with me, I would have breathing episodes and have to be sent home.   My friends located my daughter, who immediately notified my son, who lives in Lodi, CA, who flew right down.   After rushing me in for various C.T. scans, and they saw the nightmare they presented, they told my daughter that I would have to be taken into surgery, to see if any repair could be done, She was told that I most likely wouldn’t survive the surgery, and with my breathing problems, would  probably be on a breathing tube for the rest of my life, if I did survive. Just as they were nearly to the O.R. door, another Cardio-Vascular surgeon stopped everyone and asked to speak to my daughter, in private.

He told her that he seriously doubted that I could survive the surgery, and his suggestion was to treat it medically. He told her that his dad had suffered the same thing, and by treating it medically, he survived 11 1/2 years, and died of something else! That sounded great to my daughter, so they both came over to me, to share the information. Believe me, that was a real relief!   I was in ICU for a long time, then “Special Care,” and on Oct.16, I was released from the hospital and sent to a Convalescent Home until I was released to come home on November 5, 2007   My daughter, grandson (6 yrs. old) and I live together now, in a nice, roomy one-level townhouse. We are very happy together, except that my grandson is highly allergic to most animals, especially cats, and I had to let my precious little cat family be placed in other homes. I suffer intensely from this grief; we were family for almost 15 years. I comfort myself by knowing that they will all be with me again (never to part), when we get to Heaven.   What a year this has been, and I truly need help, and possibly more aggressive treatment for my condition. I was referred to a Thoracic/Cardiac surgeon, and he was so blown away by the reports of my condition, he was is shock. He couldn’t believe that I was still alive. He had me undergo another series of C.T. scans, and nearly fainted when he saw them. I was diagnosed with Type I Aortic Dissection, from my shoulder, next to my heart, my abdomen and in the groin. I had four aneurysms. When we got the results of the latest C.T. scans, the aorta had healed up, and there weren’t any evidence of aneurysms! He wants to see me in a year for more scans, but in the meantime, it’s not easy or pleasant living with the symptoms, all the discomfort and feeling so weak, tiring so easily and sleeping nearly ’round-the-clock!   I gave you this rather long “Thumb-nail sketch of what I’ve been, and still am going through. I really am grateful for this website, and plan to make a lot of use from it. I just don’t know where to begin. I thought I would send you this much, so that you would have an idea as to where I’m at in this process, and maybe you can lead me to various people who can possibly improve my situation. I feel that I’m way too much medicated, and that disturbs me, and there a lots of things I need to learn.   My Sincere Thanks,   Loretta Young

Steve Atkatz-74

Personal Stories: Steve Atkatz

I guess that I’m one of the luckiest guys around. The series of events leading up to my aortic dissection, repair and recovery defies all laws of probability.

I see a lot of mentions of faith on this website but, considering the life I’ve led for the last 75 years, I’m way down the list on those who deserve to survive.

For the last six years I had been participating in a study by Columbia University going for early detection of lung cancer and/or COPD in elderly smokers and ex-smokers. Along with an annual physical examination they did a CT scan of your chest. Last September the CT scan picked up an enlargement of the root of my aorta to 5.4 cm. They promptly forwarded the results to my cardiologist. I’d had an MI 15 years prior and had since been followed by a cardiologist. When he saw this he was concerned, but we decided to wait 6 months and do another CAT scan to see if it had expanded any.

Thanksgiving Eve 2007 my wife made dinner for the whole family including kids, grandkids, etc. She outdid herself and at the end of the dinner I stood up to make a toast with her world class rum and brandy egg nog. I never made the toast, instead it felt like someone had stuck a sword thru my chest. A call was made to 911 and the paramedics were there in minutes [they must have been having coffee right around the corner]. I was still conscious as they bundled me up I told them about the enlarged aorta and my prior history. Also I requested Columbia Presbyterian hospital where all my records and doctors were and which was <5 minutes away by ambulance. They said, “No problem, we work there”.

I was still awake at the ER and told the doctor there my history. He bypassed a whole bunch of routine stuff and rushed me to the CT scan. It seems that Alan Stewart the chief honcho of the Cardio-Thoracic surgery unit and one of the top surgeons in the field world wide was, by some fluke, on his way in on Thanksgiving Eve and would operate on me. Wife, daughter and the rest of my entourage were then thrown out and I went to surgery.

It seems the dissection went from the root of the aorta to almost where it splits by the navel, went up one of the carotids, down the subclavian artery, and into a few other places. It took 6 1/2 hours with me on the pump to get everything patched up. Incidentally I also got a bovine [that’s a cow’s] aortic valve as a replacement for my human one as a bonus.

I’m not even going to go into my convalescence, including weeks of mostly unconsciousness, delusions, manic behavior and some pretty wild dreams. All what I see referred to here on the website as “pump head” behavior. As well as two weeks in the psycho division while the rest of my neurons aligned themselves.

Anyway, here we are 9 months later, I’m pretty much back to normal except for some soreness in my sacroiliac joints due to all the time flat on my back. I’ve even gone back to doing a little management consulting again with some old clients that either need me or pity me. I couldn’t care less as long as they pay.

Contact Steve

Nancy Gaskill and Cindi Gaskill-72 & 52

Personal Stories: Nancy Gaskill and Cindi Hill  (Mother and Daughter)

I am writing this story for my mother and me. You will read how I saved her life, but in return, she saved mine. It began on March 17, 2005, at 11:15 am. I was driving my car to the Houston airport because I was flying to Indiana to meet my husband. The plan was for my mother to drive my car back home after she dropped me off.

We live one street from each other in south Houston, so the ride to the airport is about 45 minutes each way. We were riding north on I45 and chatting about the family etc. All of a sudden, my mother grabbed her chest and said she was having the worst pain she has ever experienced in her life. My first thought was that she had indigestion, but she said the pain was not going away. I grabbed her hand and told her to take deep breaths, but she proceeded to stroke out on me. Here I am driving 70 mph through Houston traffic and thinking I have got to get my mother medical help.

I knew we were not near any hospitals and couldn’t turn around and go back to the hospital near our house because we had gone too far. I heard a voice in my right ear that said, “Call 911 on your cell phone.” I dialed the number with my right hand, while trying to keep the car safely on the road with my left hand. The emergency personnel told me to pull off at the next exit, so I did. Luckily there was a deserted parking lot where I parked my car. At this time, my mother is unconscious, but I knew she was breathing because her stomach was going up and down.

I laid the seat down flat to keep her airway open. The ambulance arrived and removed her from my car to a stretcher. She was combative now and moaning like she was trying to talk to me, but couldn’t. I told them she does not have high blood pressure or diabetes. She is of average weight and of excellent health for a 72 year old. We were all baffled as what was going on in her body. She was rushed to Memorial Hermann in the Houston Medical Center where she was being treated as a possible stroke victim. It just so happened, that a Hungarian doctor on call diagnosed her condition as an aorta dissection. He hadn’t completed his USA medical status yet, so he was a consultant until then. If he hadn’t been on call that day, she would be dead.

Dr. Anthony Estrera, who was trained and on the elite team of the renowned Dr. Hazim Safi, came out to tell my sisters and me that she was on her way to surgery and couldn’t say if she would live through the surgery or not. They told us it was the same thing John Ritter died of. After 4 1/2 hours of surgery, Dr. Estrera and his team replaced her ascending aorta. She made it through surgery! The next day though, she was taken back to surgery for internal bleeding. She had received 18 pints of blood during the night. That surgery was a success. All in all, she was in Hermann Hospital for two weeks, and a rehab hospital for four weeks. The day after she was released from rehab, she threw a blood clot and had to return to Hermann for a week. Mother has been home since the middle of May and improving each day. She lost 25 pounds, but is regaining her weight and strength with outpatient therapy.

The doctor said it would take a good 10-12 months to fully recover. In the meantime, a doctor of genetics at Hermann asked to study our family for aortic aneurysms. She took blood samples from my two sisters and me, and told us to get an echocardiogram. We did, and on May 23, 2005, my ascending aortic aneurysm that measured 4.7 was discovered. I was sent for a CT Scan and a heart cath the next week. I am the oldest at 52 of both my sisters. Both of their echo’s came out just fine.

On June 29th, 2005, Dr. Estrera operated on me. The aneurysm was larger than they thought, and my valve was leaking. He repaired the aorta with a graft and closed the leaky valve. I am now three weeks out of surgery and doing well. Up until March 17th, we didn’t know one thing about aortic dissections. Now we have learned so much, and your website has been a “Godsend”. People need to be aware that aortic aneurysms can be genetic too!

Contact Cindi

Roushdy Abouseda-77

Personal Stories: Roushdy Abouseda

I was indeed very pleased to have come across your site which happened accidentally while I was looking for information on ascending aorta dissection.  Although I am 77, I am quite new to heart and artery problems.  It all happened on the 3rd of February when I got a severe pain starting in the upper part of my neck piercing to the back and extending to both the front and back of my chest.

I was rushed into hospital where preliminary examinations in the emergency room revealed almost nothing wrong and was put under observation for another 48 hours.  The pain had subsided and I felt reasonably normal.  On the 5th I was taken for a CT which revealed a dissection in the ascending and arch part of the aorta, but the doctors indicated that this could be treated by beta block medication and did not really suggest surgery.  Most of the staff in that hospital were either school friends or friends and the hospital director suggested that we should consider surgery.

The argument against surgery from the part of the vascular surgeon was that there was a clot of blood formed and that it eventually built up against a protection against internal hemorrhage.  Out of complete coincidence and I should say luck, Dr. Hazim Safi himself was, at that time, visiting Cairo.  Dr. Safis decision was that a surgery was needed and that the clot was not sufficient safeguard and my life could be in danger.  The operation took place on the 9th of February for:

1. Resection and graft replacement of the ascending aorta using a 30 mm woven Dacron tube graft.

2. Resuspension of the aortic valve utilizing cardiopulmonary bypass and moderate hypothermia.

I was hospitalized for two weeks thereafter and was put on Cordaron to stable heart beat and was in reasonably fit condition to be discharged.  My problem during hospitalization was that as a result of an old polio and total knee and hip replacement on my right leg, I had to use crutches which, on account of my chest incision had to be in bed most of the time.

I was recommended a CT scan one month from surgery and at an interval of 3 months thereafter during the first year.  At home, I started moving around using my crutches 6 weeks from operation and I am now recovering slowly, but would like the answer to the following questions:

1. Since the operation, I now have numbness in the inner thigh of my right leg.

2. Tingling sensation in my right palm and sometimes shooting pain in my arm.

3. Shortness of breath but improving

4. I was on Adrenal Proplonolol which gave me dry cough for about a month and then disappeared.  I made a refill 3 weeks ago of Proplonolol hydrochloride and the coughing is back.

Admittedly there is a change of brand since the first batch was from Vienna and the second batch I got from New York.  All in all, I consider myself very lucky and hopefully the CT which is due tomorrow will prove that all is well.

Thanks Brian for giving me all these valuable information, since I would have no means of otherwise reaching it.

Contact Roushdy Abouseda

Julie Atwell's Mother-70

Personal Stories:  Julie Atwell’s Mother

It’s good to hear that so many people that have good stories to tell about aortic dissection, my story is horrible… My mom was diagnosed with aortic dissection on June 25,2004 a day after her 70th birthday… The hospital chose not to do her surgery until June 28, she died on the operating table.

It has been a horrible nightmare and I hope everyday that wake up the nightmare will be over. She was misdiagnosed on June 4,2004, she lived for 3 weeks not even knowing that she was so sick.

I wish I could understand more about the disease. The doctors told us from the beginning that she had a 80% chance of living but I have learned since through Brian that those chances were not right.

We are talking to the hospital management and hoping we can get our story out, please keep our family in your prayers, the holidays were very hard.. Our mother was all we had (our father died in 1976). I wished my story could be a happy ending.


Julie Atwell

Shirley Smith-71

Personal Stories: Shirley Smith

This is the story of my Mom. Shirley Smith. She and my father were getting ready to fly out to their winter home in FL and on the 2nd of Oct. she ended up in the hospital. They said she didn’t seem to have a heart attack nor a stroke. Through her testing they found that she had a leaky aortic valve and 4 – 50% clogged arteries. Her doctor told us they would treat this with medication and released my mom from the hospital. On Oct. 14 she went back to the same doctor and he released her to go to FL.

So, mom & dad went to purchase new tickets and were to leave on the 18th. Well, on the early morning of the 15th, Oct. She woke to a terrible pain in her chest. Dad drove her to the emergency and they put her into a CT Scan. Found that she had a torn aortic valve. They sedated her heavily and put her into emergency open heart surgery, which they had said would only take approximately 6 hours. 17 hours later, they came into the waiting room and told us she was being moved into ICU. They had her in a induced coma and also paralyzed so she would not be able to move.

My mom was so swollen from this they were never able to sew her chest back up. She was on a by-pass machine for her left heart and a ventilator and so many med, I think she had 16 IV’s. They put her back into surgery on Saturday night because her chest cavity was filling up with fluid. Then again on Tuesday the 19th, more surgery to try and take her off the by-pass machine.

They said it would take up to 7 hours if it was going to work. They came out after 1.5 hours and wanted to send her to the University of Michigan hospital. The doctor said her kidneys were failing and dialysis might help but also that her lungs were hardening and leathery. Her blood OX at this time was only 69.

She never came out of this. I wonder if they could have diagnosed this the first time she was there? Why didn’t they do a CT Scan? Obviously, there was something wrong when they found the leaky valve and the arteries clogged… I miss my mom, she was so full of life and none of us expected this.

Contact Daughter

Frank Rende-77

Personal Stories: Frank Rende

Hello Brian, I have just read your article on your website and will continue to read through the other links that are available.  I feel that your website will be very resourceful.

My father’s name is Francesco (Frank) Rende and he is 77 years of age, the father of 5 children, 9 grandchildren and a very devoted husband to my mother for over 51 years. Here is his story…

He collapsed at home in the early morning on April 15, 2004.  My sister called 911 and he was sent to nearby York Finch General Hospital, which is located in a suburb of Toronto.  He was complaining of a very severe upper chest pain and headache as well as feeling very cold and sweaty at the same time.  They conducted some tests (CT scan of the head, chest x-ray, EKG) and they determined that he was not having a heart attack or a stroke.

After being in the emergency from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm, he was sent home and was given a painkiller for his head ache.  He was still complaining that his shoulder was hurting and his head.  I asked the doctors that if it was a good idea to send him home, why not keep him in for observation over night?  Well, he still decided to send him home so home we went.

I decided to stay for dinner and that was just as well because at approximately 6:00 pm of that same day he collapsed again.  We called 911 AGAIN, and he was sent back to the hospital.  Still not diagnosed, the doctor this time had an idea as to what was happening to my father but could not be sure until we did a CT scan of his chest.  So they pursued the scan, after a few minutes they came back saying that they were unable to proceed with the scan because his blood pressure was not normal.

They needed to give him some medication to bring it back to normal so we waited and waited for the medication to work.  The CT scan was going to be a risk; a risk that we needed to be aware of therefore, they needed our signed consent.  We were told that there could be kidney failure once the test was done because of his blood pressure but we literally had no choice.  We needed to have the test done to have the diagnosis otherwise no major hospital would accept him without a diagnosis, so we consented.  Well after the CT scan he was in so much pain that he was screaming and in all of my 35 years of life have never heard my father scream from so much pain.

The results were definite in that he was experiencing a dissection of the ascending aorta valve and that the hospital he was in could not do anything for him.  We were basically told that this was inoperable at this time and we want to make him comfortable for the time he has left.

I guess the attending physician at that time did not have much hope for one of the more specialized hospitals of accepting him as a patient but that changed and Toronto General gave the okay to have him transported there.  Nearly 18 hours since he first collapsed at home for the first time and in the interim sent home mid day from his first trip to the hospital because the first doctor was not competent enough to know that this was happening to my father we were following an ambulance to Toronto General Hospital.  It was not until the 2nd emergency doctor that had enough sense to have an idea what was going on with my Father and pursue diagnosis and treatment.

It was now 3:00 am on April 16th, and we were waiting to speak to the cardiovascular surgeon that was called in for my Father, Dr. Borger.  Truly, this doctor seemed to be the doctor that was going to help him.  He spoke to us with such knowledge of what was happening to my Father that we all had a sense of relief, relief in a way that he was going to be given a chance, that to this point we did not have given the maltreatment my Father was given initially at York Finch Hospital.

Dr. Borger was very clear in saying that it was a 50/50 chance that our Father would survive the operation, a total replacement of the ascending aorta valve and if he did survive, there would further complications such as a stroke.  He confirmed that he was going into the operation with kidney failure, which probably was a result of the CT scan that was done at the other hospital.  A test that should have been done earlier in the day when he made his first trip to the emergency room.  We feel that as the day progressed his blood pressure got worse which made it more difficult to do the CT scan, which was not done until the early hours of April 16th because of the misdiagnosis.

5 hours later Dr. Borger came to see us with optimism about the recovery of our Father however, it has now been one month on May 16th, since the operation.  He was in ICU for one month, has dialysis 3 times a week, has had a Tracheotomy to help secrete excess fluids, had had a feeding tube in his mouth for 3 weeks (now has a feeding tube in his stomach) and at times seems to be unresponsive when you speak to him.

They secrete the fluids through the access hole that the Tracheotomy has given them.  We have been told that there has been some neurological damage because of a moderate stroke he has suffered, but to what extent, at this time they are not able to say.  Hopefully we can know more when he starts to speak.  This week they are corking the Tracheotomy a few times a day to test his speaking ability.  He can move his limbs and himself and this is evident when he is lying in the bed.

They have started taking him out of the bed to get him moving and get his circulation going.  We are at a point where as we thought recovery would have been a little more progressed at this time and cannot understand at times, his unresponsiveness.  He does hold my hand and holds it very tightly and when I try to kiss him he does make a very weak pucker.  Sometimes I see tears roll down his face and I am left with visions of my father in my dreams and in my day-to-day routine.

Should someone be accountable for not properly diagnosing him earlier that day?  We as a family are focusing on his recovery of course but are left with a lot of unanswered questions.  Thank you for listening to my story.

Update: 7/27/04

Hello Kim, I’ve been meaning to post an update to my Dad’s (age 78) story and will do so very soon. I’ve been very busy at work and at home having young children so the days are very short.   Thank you for you concern and I loved reading your good news.  I envisioned you father in the garden because
my father too is a die hard vegetable gardener, I guess that is his nature being an Italian man (he came to Canada in the mid 50’s…he’s what you call, “off the boat”).  Well his anger has seem to be gone, his depression comes and goes, mostly goes when he sees his grandchildren.  He is still in the hospital (since April 16th) and the only thing that is stopping him from going home is his inability to gain the strength/energy to stand up on his own and walk.  I feel he has become very complacent and has grown accustomed to everyone doing things for him, but yet he complains that he wants to come home, so we tell…THE ONLY THING STOPPING YOU IS WALKING ON YOUR OWN.  He’s much happier now that he is able to eat regular foods, but he will not dare eat the hospital food, my poor Mom (age 76) has been going to the hospital since the first day, and she will bring him what he has been longing for for such a long time…a nice plate of pasta.  You see that is very important to an Italian man set in his ways so we encourage him to eat to get his strength back.  But of course the hospital is now wanting to “get rid of him” and “ship” him off to a long term care facility because really he is not on any medication or is not being fed by lines, just the dialysis he gets 3x a week.  The hospital’s compassion seems to have worn off because his recover has been very long and enduring.   On another note, we are seeking legal services against the 1st emergency doctor who DID NOT diagnose the dissection, but rather sent him home with a pain killer.  Even though my Dad was still complaining of a head ache and upper chest pain (close to his neck) they still sent him home.  It wasn’t until many, many hours later that he collapsed AGAIN at home and the 2nd emergency doctor finally diagnosed the dissection but with damaging consequences because of the delay in his treatment.  We know that his legal matter may take years but someone needs to be accountable for what happened and we have been told that someone certainly “dropped the ball” on your father’s initial visit to emergency.  We are thinking of his future, especially if he does need to stay in a long term care facility that his pensioner insurance will not cover.   Once again, thank you for keeping in touch and I was meaning to reply and I apologize for the delay.  Please do continue to keep in touch.   Brian, you may add my update to the website and I know you hear this a lot…BUT THANKS FOR THE WEBSITE!!!   Sincerely,

Update: 10/31/2004

Another update to Frank Rende’s story posted on May 18, 2004…

I first told my father’s story this past spring and at that time it did not seem that he was going to survive or ever come out of the hospital. Well, almost 7 months later we finally brought him home…for good!! He only started walking about 2 months ago, 1 month ago on his own with the assistance of a walker. He still needs to have dialysis treatment 3x a week for 4 hours at a time, probably for the rest of his life; it is because of the Grace of God that my father has survived everything he has endured. With my mother by his side literally every day for hours at a time, with her own ailing health, my father is still here to love and support her, his children and grandchildren.

Many thanks to Brian for this great website, for giving me the resources and that I needed to answer my questions and give me hope. I knew after reading some of the stories that it was going to be a very slow recovery. Sincere appreciation to the wonderful doctors and nurses at Toronto General Hospital, to my mother who cared and loved for him everyday in the hospital and to my sisters and brothers who have stuck together through everything we have been through as a family. My prayers have been answered.


A. Bennett

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